Category Archives: Opinion

University of New Haven Department of Communication student work in the area of journalism. These are opinion pieces that do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of New Haven and its Department of Communication, Film and Media Studies.

The Face of Student Debt

Written by Kaitlin Mahar

Shakeem T. Fowler, a 22-year-old student at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., was charged with second-degree larceny last week for stealing about $14,000 in cash receipts from BJ’s Wholesale Club.Why, you ask? What’s the difference between this man and any other troubled youth from Bridgeport, Conn.?

shakeem-fowler

The answer is simple. Shakeem needed to pay his tuition.

While not everybody takes the route of stealing from their places of employment, college students go to ridiculous lengths to be able to get their education, all for the slight chance of providing a better life for themselves and their loved ones. According to a 2013 Huffington Post article, 53 percent of readers said a college degree was necessary for a good life, as opposed to the 28 percent who believed it isn’t.

Additionally, 62 percent believed that public college tuition wasn’t affordable. Fowler exemplifies what this country has come to: Students having to steal in order to afford their education.

Is he really the criminal here? Or is he yet another victim of the cold, domineering hand of Sallie Mae as she squeezes the life and life savings out of today’s students?

Take another look at Fowler. He isn’t simply a poster boy for those who want an education. Shakeem T. Fowler is a representative of those who need an education and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, no matter the cost.

Each week the editors of the Corral will be highlighting their favorite blog posts from the department of Communication’s senior seminar course. This semester the course focuses on the issues of income inequality and poverty in the United States. Check out the class blog here. A link to Kaitlin’s original post can be found here.

Sexism is Burning a Hole in My Pocket

Written by Maya Szymanski

UntitledWhy are women products higher in price compared to the male forms of the same product? A Washington Post article said “women’s deodorants typically cost 30 cents more than the same product for men.” And:

“The only discernible difference was scent.”

Listen, I didn’t ask to smell like flowers, yet these companies are telling me that’s what a woman should smell like.

UntitledIt’s a deeply flawed system created by big companies punishing an entire gender. This relates to other self-care products as well. At this point I’m getting dangerously close to making shady deals in back alleys for my razors. And women’s hair product prices are through the roof, compared  to men’s. We both need shampoo and conditioner but women are told they need “special” stuff completely appealing to the superficial nature of society. Why should I be punished for having luscious hair. (I can’t pull off the pixie cut; I just won’t do it, and you can’t make me.)

Coat a product in pink adds much to the price. Business Insider refers to this phenomenon as the “pink tax” and said that there was a…

California study that revealed women pay $1,351 a year more for the same products as men.

This is literally the definition of American capitalism. It’s actually not a market of choice. It is a system driven by the constant goal to turn a profit by exploitation. I say we try to abandon the mindset that everything needs to be separate with men and women products just because of societies determined gender roles.

But I guess at the end of the day we may both be tired and overworked. But at least my nails look unbelievable.

Each week the editors of the Corral will be highlighting their favorite blog post from the department of Communication’s senior seminar course. This semester the course focuses on the issues of income inequality and poverty in the United States. Check out the class blog here. A link to Maya’s original post can be found here.

Everyone Has Body Issues

Written by Caleb Harris

Our culture has many views on what a person should look like.

The media covers body issues for females, but rarely for males. Males suffer from the same pressures that females do to maintain that “perfect” image as well. For males, most body issues start with action figures, male models, and comic book heroes with muscular physiques.

chartAccording to TheAtlantic.com’s article on body image pressures, Dr. Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, studies pressure on young boys.

“You want people to be concerned enough about their weight to make healthy decisions, but not so concerned that they’re willing to take whatever means it takes healthy or unhealthy to achieve their desired physique,” Field said. Many young boys feel pressed to look a certain way, often leading to unhealthy performance drugs.

A Huffington Post article discusses Tyler Kingkade’s story.

“At 14, I don’t remember a single day I felt thin,” he said, “and yet I was in great shape, playing hockey regularly.” Both males and females suffer from their own hidden insecurities. It’s not merely a gender thing, it’s a people thing. We go through our own issues as we get older because of the media and society’s expectations of perfection.

Why Millennials are ‘Bern-ing’ for Bernie

By Steven Mahoney

Bernie Sanders’s life long history of advocacy for the oppressed and authenticity terrifies the establishment and excites young people while giving them hope and interest in the political process. Sanders promises revolutionary change that excites young people who are fed up with crony capitalism and big money in politics. Some of Sanders’s promises include breaking up “too big to fail” banks, placing more regulation on Wall Street, creating a single payer healthcare system, and providing free college tuition at all public universities.

Primary season kicked off at the beginning of the month with the Iowa Caucus. According to NBC News, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came away with about 50% of the vote with Hillary taking the slight edge. February 9 was the New Hampshire Primary, where according to NBC News, Bernie Sanders came away with 60% of the vote, while Hillary Clinton lagged behind with just 38%. In both of these cases exit polls showed that young voters had a strong preference for Sanders over Clinton. In Iowa, according to an NBC News exit poll, 84% of 17-29 year-olds supported Sanders. While in New Hampshire, 83% of 18-29 year-olds supported Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie of Slate was onto something when he said that Hillary Clinton is a transactional politician, while Bernie Sanders is more ideological. Typically, transactional leadership is compared with transformational leadership. This may be one of the main reasons why Bernie is so successful amongst young voters even though he and Clinton have many similar views politically.

Transactional leaders are managerial leaders who focus on supervision, organization, and group performance. They motivate their followers by reward and punishment, and are typically associated with maintaining the status quo. Bouie says that it is hard to get people excited about a transactional politician, and says this is why Sanders’s campaign has generated so much more enthusiasm than Clinton’s.

Bernie Sanders is a transformational politician whose campaign revolves around the idea of leading a political revolution. Transformational leaders work to implement new ideas and create change by inspiring subordinates with high minded idealism and authenticity. They also encourage followers to think about group interest rather than self-interest.

Hillary Clinton is not fighting for the best interest of working class Americans, nor does she have the foresight needed to create the change our corrupt political system needs. Clinton represents the establishment and everything wrong with the current system. For Clinton the presidency is likely about legacy, power, and ultimately feeding her ego.

Clinton represents the reckless financial sector that many attribute with cause of the Great Recession of 2008. The New York Times reported that Bill and Hillary Clinton have made over $125 million in speaking fees since 2001. The Clintons gave some of those paid speeches to Wall Street firms. The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs paid Clinton $675,000 for three speeches. The Washington Post reported that Bernie Sanders has criticized Hillary Clinton for taking over $15 million dollars in Super Pac money, many of which came from Wall Street. Just last week it was widely reported that the CEO of Goldman Sachs expressed his fear at the idea of a Bernie Sanders presidency.

Young people want real change and not deception and empty promises. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, and everything wrong with the United States, while seeming manufactured. Bernie Sanders is a lifelong advocate for the oppressed, an authentic change maker, and a revolutionary leader. If Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination I will not be voting because that would be reinforcing the oppressive American ideological system of profits over people.

 

8 Reasons Why Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders is “Bae”

Litigated article by: Dayna Lindo

Published October 8, 2015

As stated in an article published by the Guardian, since declaring his bid for the White House in April, Bernie Sanders, a self-stated Democratic socialist, has held some of the biggest rallies of any of the Democratic or Republican candidates. The Vermont senator – an independent in the Senate, but running for the Democratic nomination – hosted a live webcast in July that was watched by around 100,000 people at 3,500 different events nationwide.

1. He is engaging more Millennials to become interested in politics

Bernie is Bae 1

Politicians do not often inspire memes, or clothing lines, or indeed young people in general. Young people are not even supposed to be interested in politics right now. The number of 18- to 29-year-olds voting declined from 2008 to 2012. The 2014 midterms saw the lowest youth turnout ever: just 19.9%.

Since his announcement for the presidential seat, Sanders has inspired countless hashtags, memes and general fanfare. On Instagram, #feelthebern and #Bernie2016 vie for dominance with the #babesforbernie hashtag – which is mainly self-applied by young women who are holding or wearing some sort of Sanders apparel. On Facebook, 1.8 million people like Sanders’s page, 0.6 million more than the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and 1.6 million more than Republican Jeb Bush.

2. His moral track record is consistent

Bernie is Bae 2

“One thing is his genuineness. He’s been a consistent warrior against economic inequality since the 60s, and he hasn’t changed a bit,” stated Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an organization that encourages young people to get involved in politics.

Nick Kowalczyk, 29, when asked about the design on his shirt which vaguely resembles an outline of the head of the Vermont senator and leftwing candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, stated he is planning to wear a lot of “Bernie For President” apparel in the next few weeks and upcoming year.

“Bernie Sanders uses socialism in the way it makes sense, which is just good, common, moral, ethical policy,” Kowalczyk says. “And I appreciate the guy’s honesty and his steadfastness to his beliefs. His consistency.”

3. He acknowledges that civil rights is a work-in-progress in the U.S. and wants to work on it

Bernie is Bae 3

Before the Supreme Court’s recent “equal marriage for all”  announcement, Sanders declared that it was “time for the Supreme Court to catch up to the American people and legalize gay marriage.” In 1996, then-Rep. Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by the states and was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the 14th Amendment in 2013.

Sanders doesn’t just stop on the issue of equality for LGBT Americans; he has been a longtime supporter of women’s rights as well. Sanders has voted against numerous anti-abortion bills in his time in Congress, and has been given a 100% rating by NARAL every year since 2003.

Beth Basketville, 25, stated that she attended an event supporting a political candidate for the first time in her life. “He’s the only person running who I’d actually want to be in the White House,” Basketville says. “I like that he’s the candidate that supports women and marginalized individuals. He’s the only one who’s really looking out for those groups.”

4. He understands the HELL that is student loans, and actually wants to do something about it

Bernie is Bae 4

It isn’t a secret that the burden student debt has dampened the once idolized idea of attending college for a higher education, and in turn, a higher income salary. But even long before Sanders declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, finding solutions to combat the increasing cost of higher education was a major part of his mission as a senator. He has supported extending subsidized federal student loan rates, as well as making employee educational assistance tax-deductible.

Last year, surrounded by Vermont college students and graduates wrestling with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, Sanders announced that he was introducing legislation to help students earn college credits in high school in order to cut the amount of time they spend paying tuition costs.

“Millennials, we in general identify ourselves as the generation of debt,” says Moumita Ahmed, part of a team which runs People for Bernie, an activist group independent from Sanders’s campaign. “That’s our identity. Bernie Sanders that’s one of his biggest issues: his biggest platform is debt inequality.”

5. He’s down with the digital era

Bernie is Bae 5

Who ever said you can’t bring about change through the internet? With so many Millennials spreading “Bern-fever” through sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we are proving just how we CAN actually make a social impact through the use of social media.

According to social media monitor Crowd Tangle, Sanders has the highest-level engagement on his individual Facebook posts when compared to the other candidates running for president. He has the largest number of people liking his messages, sharing his thoughts, and commenting on his plans.

Kawashima-Ginsberg stated that his ability to translate online popularity to real-life support is a demonstration of how millennials do not have the same separation between their online and real-world lives as older generations.

6. He questions the validity of the war on drugs

Bernie is Bae 6

Although he’s still skeptical of legalization across the board, Sanders labels the War on Drugs as a “failed policy” that has trapped millions of nonviolent offenders in an endless prison-to-prison pipeline.

This aligns with the views of a vast majority of millennials, who support the legalization of marijuana use and possession. According to Pew Research Center, 68% of millennials support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. (Before tossing out the “that’s just pothead twenty-somethings” canard, Pew also found that only 52% of millennials have actually tried marijuana, meaning that legalization of recreational pot is more popular than pot itself.)

7. He is concerned about the well-being of our environment

Bernie is Bae 7

In 2012, Sanders blasted Sen. Jim Inhofe (he of “snowballs prove climate change is a scam” infamy) for being one of the biggest climate skeptics in Congress.

“The bottom line is that when Sen. Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists,” Sanders said. “For better or worse, when Sen. Inhofe speaks, the Republican party follows. And when the Republican party follows, it is impossible to get real work done in the Congress.”

The next year, Sanders introduced the Climate Protection Act, which would tax greenhouse gas emissions and invest the revenue in research into clean energy. According to a University of Texas Energy Poll, 56% of millennials say that they are inclined to vote for candidates who support cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

8. He is less concerned with filling his own pockets with cash and more concerned with America’s widening wealth gap

Bernie is Bae 8

Sanders told Mother Jones in an interview, “There is something immoral when so few have so much and so many have so little. I don’t come to San Francisco very often, but we’ve driven around the city and seen people sleeping out on the streets. In my state, you’ve got people working 40, 50 hours a week and going to emergency food shelves because they don’t earn enough money to feed their families adequately. You have millions of young people graduating college deeply in debt. They can’t get their lives started, can’t get married. So I think the issue of income and wealth inequality is in fact a moral issue.”

Sixty-four percent of millennials believe that the gap between rich and poor has grown during their lifetimes, according to a Harvard Public Opinion Project poll. And they are finding that even in their twenties, income inequality is widening the wealth gap between them and their peers.

“People are working longer hours for lower wages and are exhausted,” Sanders told Mother Jones. “I think they don’t have the energy to engage in political struggle. And second of all, the power of the billionaire class, people look up and say, ‘We can’t beat them.’”

Sources:

Gabbatt, Adam. “Millennials ‘heart’ Bernie Sanders: Why the Young and Hip Are #FeelingtheBern.” The Gaurdian. © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited, 20 Aug. 2015. Web.

Bixby, Scott. “Definitive Proof That Bernie Sanders Is the Candidate Young People Need.” Mic. Policy.Mic, 15 May 2015. Web.

A World Where Red is Green and Green is Orange

The human eye is one of the most amazing biological entities of the modern world. The capabilities of human eyes have astounded scientists for centuries. Its ability to distinguish light, distance, depth perception, size, and react to stimuli is truly astonishing. The human eye is so advanced that many believe it is proof of God’s existence because there is no feasible way that nature or evolution could have created it. Even Charles Darwin, a well-known advocate of evolution and the basis for Darwinism and natural selection, once stated that “to suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been

formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest sense.” But as amazing as our eyes are, we often take their abilities for granted; we forget how privileged we are to have a working, functioning means of sight. Because not all human eyes are perfect, many are dysfunctional or impeded in some way. When we think of vision deficiencies, blindness comes to mind for most. However, colorblindness is a visual handicapped of far less discussion or concern. Being colorblind can have enormous effects on a person’s life that the general population fails to realize and understand.

A common misconception about colorblindness is that everyone who has it cannot see colors at all and sees only in black and white or shades of gray. This is simply not true. Although there

are extreme forms of colorblindness where this is the case, most individuals suffering from colorblindness can see colors but have issues distinguishing certain colors from each other and/or cannot detect certain colors or shades of colors. In these more mild cases, the person would be classified as suffering from a color vision deficiency.

Although there are far worse conditions to suffer from than color vision deficiencies, I think it is important to shed some light on this strange and often ignored medical condition. It is impossible for someone not suffering from colorblindness to truly comprehend what it is like to live with this deficiency, but by describing a day in the life of someone who is colorblind maybe I can get you one step

closer. But first, let’s take a look at the science behind colorblindness.

Color blindness is caused by a fault in the development of the retinal cones in the eye. These cones perceive color in light and transmit it to the optic nerve. This is usually sex linked and the genes that code for photopigments are carried by the x chromosome. If the genes are damaged color blindness may be expressed. It is much more common in men (8 percent) than in women (0.5 percent) because men have only one x chromosome whereas women have a second x chromosome that will override the dysfunctional gene.

There are many types of colorblindness these include monochromic, or total colorblindness, in which no color is distinguishable; only black and white is visible. This is the rarest forms of color blindness. Dichromacy is when one of the three color mechanisms is absent or does not function. As a result, color is reduced to two dimensions. Under this category some people may be unable to distinguish certain colors. Red colorblind prevents the perception of red and black is seen instead. Blue and purple are indistinguishable as a result. And orange appears yellow. Green colorblind prevents the perception of green. Red and green are difficult to distinguish. Blue color blindness inhibits perception of blue and therefore blue appears green, yellow and orange appear pink, and purple appears red. All of these are very rare. More common is Trichromacy in which one of three cone pigments is altered affecting its sensitivity. This results in impaired color vision rather than loss. In this category there are, again, red, green, and blue deficiencies but on a less severe scale in which colors may be perceived but not as clearly and not all of the time. More than one deficiency can be present in a person. I personally am both protanomalous and deuteranomalous meaning two of my three cone pigments are damaged limiting my perception of red and green light. Luckily, I am trichomacous meaning color is not totally absent and can distinguish a vivid red from a vivid green. However, it is difficult, although not always impossible, for me to distinguish purple and blue, blue and pink, red and pink, orange and green, green and yellow, orange and red, and many others. Some colors just seem to look identical and other times I don’t even know how to

classify a color. My uncle also suffers from colorblindness which is where I assume I inherited it from.

Now that we’ve discussed the science behind the issue, let’s begin investigating how this condition can isolate people from society, alienate them, make life difficult, and confine them in life. Using my own experiences and the experiences of my uncle, I will walk you through a day in the life of a colorblind person in today’s society. We will stop and discuss the issues and limitations along the way and hopefully you will gain a deeper understanding of the condition and those it affects.​

Imagine this, you wake up in the morning to the sound of you alarm buzzing. The clock reads 5:29 a.m. You examine the numbers on clock. To you they appear orange, but you know your eyes are deceiving you, and they are actually red. You get out of bed and go to your dresser. Even the simple act of getting dressed for the day is a challenge. It is filled almost completely with clothing of black, white, and gray color; it just makes matching easier. Having clothes in all shades of red, blue, and green just isn’t an option because matching would be next to impossible. The only colored shirts you own are sport shirts because you know the Red Sox shirts are red and the Patriots shirts are blue not because you can see the color but because you have been told these teams are this color and have memorized them. You head out to the parking lot to get your car; while searching among the vehicles you look for your car based on its make and model. You always double check the license plate in fear of driving off in a black Subaru instead of your red one. You

begin the drive to school and quickly come across a traffic light. You know the lights are colored red, yellow, and green because that’s just what you’ve been told. But to you the lights appear brown, orange, and white. You’ve come to the point where you know the top brown light is actually red and means stop, the middle orange light is actually yellow and means caution and to prepare to stop, and that the bottom white light is green and means go.

You arrive at school and head to history class. In today’s class you have to create a map showing the different empires and the land they have conquered. Unfortunately for you, the map you must create needs to be color coded using four different shades of blue, and it is a quiz. Normally you would have a friend assist you, asking “hey what color is this” over and over again. But this was a

quiz and must be done independently. You pray that the colored pencils are labelled by color, but they are not. You explain your situation to the teacher, but she just tells you to do your best. You hand in the assignment knowing full well you failed miserably all because of color.

After class a few of your friends who overheard you conversation with the teacher ask the dreaded question: “so you’re color blind? Does that mean you can’t see colors?” You try to explain that you can see colors but you can’t distinguish all of them and get certain colors confused. This fuels the barrage of “why” questions and the unrelenting color tests. Over and over they ask “what color is this”. When you get it wrong they laugh and can’t believe it, when you get it right they seem to believe you are no

longer color blind. You try to explain that they couldn’t understand it unless they saw what you saw.

You head to the library to register for next semester’s classes. You look over the core curriculum and are horrified to see you still need one class in art. Taking an art class for you would be like a deaf person going to a concert, so you have no choice but to opt for the art history class. You finish registering and check your degree audit to see your progress so far. You look back upon the classes you have taken and are saddened when you see the military science and ROTC classes. You still can’t believe you were medically disqualified in part due to inadequate color vision and now your full tuition scholarship is gone. You glance over what classes lie ahead and stress over whether or not you should change your major. You

are a criminal justice major but your career opportunities in this field are limited.

You’ve always wanted to be a police officer but realize that color vision is an essential part of the job. If you are told over the radio to arrest the man in a red hoody and blue jeans and you proceed to tackle and handcuff a man in an orange hoody and black jeans, you are probably going to have some issues. Not being able to distinguish color properly makes identifying suspects and vehicles difficult and you become a liability to the department which is why almost all departments require a color vision test before they will hire you. You know this because you’ve asked multiple departments, and you’ve done hours of agonizing research online hoping to find that one exception that will give you hope.

All this thinking has you stressed out and you search online for the color vision test used by police departments. You take it and fail horribly. This is nothing new, you’ve taken it and failed it a thousand times but somehow you thought maybe this time would be different. You begin to question yourself as to why you chose to pursue this career despite having such a disadvantage. Even if you were to get a waiver or make it past the test phase, any department is going to hire person with adequate vision over you, making the already competitive job market even tougher for you. Frustrated, you turn off the computer and head home for the night.

Now that you’ve experienced a day in the shoes of a colorblind person, let’s discuss some of the difficulties that you faced. First let’s discuss the clock. The color of the numbers on the clock is a

great example of how you have to compensate for things when you’re color blind. When you are corrected by someone and told that something is a different color than you perceive it as, you store that in your mind and remember it so you won’t make the mistake again. This happens with many items. I spent 9 years of my life believing pine trees were brown and only know they are green because I was corrected. I now only call them evergreen trees so I will remember they are green. It gets to the point where I only know certain things are a certain color because that’s what I’ve been told. In a sense, I almost lose my ability to think for myself and do feel very isolated from the rest of the population.

Next was the clothing situation. This is one of the most limiting factors when it comes to color blindness. It is very difficult

to get dressed appropriately and to match when you are color blind. Therefore I have a tendency to buy only jeans and beige colored bottoms and shirts that are black, white, or a shade of gray. This way, I always match and will never leave the house looking like a fool. Because of this, I become somewhat confined and limited in what I purchase and how I dress.

Now let’s examine the experience with the vehicle. Something as easy as finding your car in the parking lot became difficult. When you have to memorize the license plate on the car to ensure it is actually yours, you can’t help but feel a little separated from the rest of society. The traffic lights are even worse. I can’t help but laugh anytime I’m driving with someone and they say “the light’s green” because I have to just go along with it even though it looks

white to me. Little things like this are what make you feel a bit out place and abnormal.

The next experience was the history class and exchange with friends afterwards. This showed how colorblindness can have adverse effects on things we don’t often consider. For the average person that quiz was incredibly easy and an automatic “A” but I failed it. This is one of many examples that display the everyday difficulties that come with color blindness. As for the interaction with friends afterwards, this is the aspect that creates the most powerful feelings of alienation. When people, your own friends, are asking question after question and testing you on the color of the wall, their shirts, and cars and can’t believe your answers you realize how different you truly are from them.

The last two scenarios were the most limiting and most serious. I was very limited in which classes I was able to take for my art credits. I couldn’t possibly take an actual art class and was forced to take an art history course instead. But even worse, you got a sense of how careers choices can be limited as well. Being colorblind eliminates any possibility of being a pilot, an electrician, a bomb squad member, a designer, decorator, anything in the arts, and many law enforcement careers. This is where you can see just how severely color vision deficiency can hold you back, place limitations on your life, and isolate you from the rest of the population.

I hope after experiencing what it is like to live with a color vision deficiency you have gained a new perspective on color blindness and won’t believe all the fallacies that society has brought you to believe. I hope you now understand that people with colorblindness are isolated from society and truly are different. I am part of the 8 percent who can’t experience the full effect of this world and hope you come to realize that we see the world in a totally different lens than you do and you should never take the privilege of sight for granted. But most of all, I really hope that if you should ever meet someone who is colorblind you will help them out when they ask you for help. And please, for pete’s sake do not quiz them on the color of everything in your surroundings.

Jonathan Marshall